It's Like Swimming in an Endless Ocean

Amelia is very colicky.

Not fussy.  Not grumpy.  Colicky.

(I would encourage you to read about colic to see the difference.)

Colic is uncontrollable crying for 3 hours on 3 or more days a week.  Generally it has periodic breaks. This last week, for instance, Amelia cried for three days straight (it seemed) and then was happy for two.  There is no pattern.  It occurs regardless of what I eat or don’t eat, how much I drink, or what is going on during the day. It’s just colic.

To repeat a common phrase, it is what it is.

I have this phobia of water.  Swimming in pools is usually okay because there are visible edges I can swim to when I get tired and/or the fear sets in.  But in places like rivers, lakes, seas, or the ocean I visibly freeze when my feet touch the water or when I see family members swim past the shore.

I imagine being stranded in the middle of these bodies of water without any visible shores or edges.  My arms paddling, my feet kicking, and my brain sending panicky signals as I realize there is nothing to rest on; no edge to swim to.  My body is sore.  My brain is thick.  I am afraid of drowning in this place.

That’s how colic feels.  On those days when I do reach the edge – when the cries have abated – I find firm footing and stay there.  I get as much done as I can (resting on the shore) before the next bout occurs (swimming in the middle of the ocean).  It’s exhausting for the whole family (including Amelia).

The experience I gained from my previous fussy babies (in which I tried everything from cutting out milk to basically cutting out all foods – which led to major depression, weight loss, and other severe things that I don’t want repeated – and those gas drops, none of which worked) tells me that this period is temporary.  Between 4 and 6 months, it will either cease or reduce dramatically.  Amelia and I will find that shore, get in the car, and drive away.  Far away.

In the meantime, I dance, rock, sing, and sway my fussy baby.  She and I swim together in this ocean with brief rests on the shore.

Through it all, I kiss her cheeks, stroke her head, and tell her how much I love her.  I let her know that she is the miracle we all waited for and that I wouldn’t trade those tear-filled moments for anything (except maybe for a few minutes of shut-eye, just kidding).

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “It's Like Swimming in an Endless Ocean

  1. You are a braver woman than me. Neither of my kids had colic, and I believe God made it that way because he knew I’d do something rash if I had to function with them crying all day. I always have so much admiration for moms who can handle stuff like colic. Thanks for posting this. Let us know when you and Amelia get into the car and drive away.

  2. I didn’t have colicky babies, but I can relate to feeling stuck. Sometimes there just isn’t much you can do but hang on until you get through it. I hate that feeling, like you’re just waiting for time to pass and time (or, in your case, your baby’s cries) hangs over you while you sit there helpless. Sorry, I hope I didn’t make things worse. I hope this time is blissfully short for you.

  3. Aunt sue

    I’m sorry you have this challenge with your baby. I was lucky with Henry, but ask your mother-in-law (if you haven’t already) about baby Ben. I believe he shrieked for 7 months, so the story goes.
    I won’t offer any advice, since clearly you are the expert in these matters. God bless you all.

  4. There is a gift here – knowing that though you can comfort your little ones, you cannot make it all okay. My first did not teach me this, and I still feel responsible in my heart for buoying her up. But together we swim, through depths and shallows, with life jackets (we hope).

    Wonderful metaphor.

  5. It’s so hard to get through long, indefinite periods of sleep deprivation. My hat is off to you, and wishing you an arrival at the shore sooner, rather than later.

  6. ck

    And yet somehow, you turn the colic experience into something beautiful.

  7. Oh, Amber. I’m just getting caught up on your posts. Gabe was colicky for 4 months and it was impossible. I feel for you…hang in there. I had to keep telling myself over and over again that some day, even though it felt like it would never come, he would stop feeling so awful and be happy. And he did!!